By HAL McCOY
The bats the Cincinnati Reds are using these days are cold enough to freeze a polar bear. Or, as one man once said, “They are taking bats to the batter’s box for no apparent reason.”
The losing streak reach 10 straight Wednesday night in Chavez Ravine, a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
When your starting pitcher gives up three runs and three hits and strikes out 11, as Cincinnati’s Dan Straily did, shouldn’t you win?
NOT WITH THE OFFENSE the Reds are offering in non-support.
They produced four hits Wednesday night against left hander Scott Kazmir, who struck out 12 in six innings.
So the Dodgers completed a three-game sweep during which the Reds produced three runs and nine hits in 27 innings. And during the 10-game losing streak (they’ve also lost 15 of 17) the Reds are hitting .185.
During the three-game sweep, the Reds offense in the late innings collapsed like a cheap beach chair. On Monday against Clayton Kershaw the last 17 went down in order. On Tuesday 15 of the last 16 went down in order. On Wednesday the last 10 went down in order. That’s 42 of 43 in the late innings.
IT WAS A TOUGH one for Straily to take. He retired the first nine Dodgers in order with six strikeouts.
And his teammates gave him a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. With one out Brandon Phillips singled. Jay Bruce drove one to the left center wall and Joc Pederson ran hard into the wall unsuccessfully trying to catch it. And he stayed down. Phillips scored and Bruce tried for an inside-the-park home run but was thrown out on a close play at home.
The lead lasted only long enough for the Dodgers to come to bat in the bottom of the fourth. Chase Utley led with a single and Straily hit Justin Turner with a pitch. Then he issued his first walk on a full count to Adrian Gonzalez, filling the bases with one out.
He struck out Trayce Thompson for the second out, but Pederson drove the next pitch into right field for a two-run single and a 2-1 lead.
THE ONLY OTHER run of the game came in the fifth when former Reds No. 1 draft pick (2010) catcher Yasmani Grandal drove a home run deep into the right field bleachers.
L.A. starter Kazmir, who walked seven and gave up five runs in 5 2/3 innings in his previous start in San Diego, struck out the first two Reds to start the game. Then Votto and Phillips both singled, but Jay Bruce lined to left to end the threat.
After that, the Reds produced two more hits over the final eight innings.
And the bad karma continues in the batter’s box for several Reds. Eugenio Suarez is 0 for 20 with 13 strikeout. Zack Cozart, who doubled on the first pitch in the first inning of the first game against Clayton Kershaw, was 0 for 11 after that. Votto had a single, but also struck out twice and has struck out 51 times this year.
Those were the major culprits, but it really is Team Slump.
After taking Thursday off to travel to Milwaukee, the Reds open a three-game series Friday night against the next to last place Brewers (20-26), who are 5 ½ games up on the Reds. That means even if the Reds sweep the Brewers they can’t climb out of the National League Central basement.